NASA

As we know, the first signs of the breakup of the comet were noted in the middle of August by the Australian amateur astronomer Michael Mattiazzo. With each passing day the pseudo-nucleus of the comet became more diffuse and less bright. Michael observed the comet right up to its perihelion and for several days afterwards. It became apparent that the comet was irreparably breaking up, but the question remained – would we see anything on the SOHO images?

SOHO could not see the comet; neither could northern hemisphere observers, where the comet was due to become visible beginning the second week of October. I made one of the first attempts to find the comet on October 6th when it was still very low on the horizon. These observations were made during navigational twilight. I could not say for sure that I had detected the comet, although combining all the images showed a possible object. However, because motion could not be confirmed, we cannot say this was actually the comet.

The second attempt took place three days later, on October 9th. Down to magnitude 19.7, Comet Elenin was not visible in a field of view of 100 x 100 minutes of arc. The next day Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero, and Nick Howes, using the 2-meter Faulkes telescope also got negative results. Their second attempt on October 17th, one day after closest approach of the comet to the Earth, also had negative results – the remains of the comet were not found.

At the moment there is not one confirmed sighting of the comet. Possibly, searches for what remains of the comet will be carried out by more powerful instruments in a few days when they can observe it without the Moon. But one can already say with certainty that the comet has turned to dust…

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